Wat Po ~ a magnificent ode to Buddha. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok’s oldest and Thailand’s largest Wat (temple complex) is Wat Po.
Wat Po houses a giant reclining Buddha  – 46 meter long, and 15 meter high. When you walk in and see this HUGE, gold figure which completely fills up a building, it definitely is surprising in its large size, its beauty and its grandeur! Wow!
The statue is of the dying Buddha lying in the position he adopted to attain Nirvana.  The complex was built in the 16th Century, during the Ayutthaya period and then almost completely rebuilt in 1781 by King Rama I.
Its hard to capture the magnificence of this Buddha in a photograph. It is 45 feet high, with the ceiling just above the top of the sculpture. There is just enough space to walk around the Buddha, but it entirely fills up a building.
Looking back towards the head of the Buddha, you can see the proportion compared with the doorway at the bottom on the left.
A small Buddha in front of the reclining Buddha’s golden legs.
The reclining Buddha statue was added in the 19th century, made from brick covered with lacquer, plaster and gold leaf. The soles of the feet of the Buddha are intricately decorated with mother of pearl.
Standing at the soles of the huge feet.
Love the swirls of the toe (finger prints).
Besides its majestic reclining Buddha, Wat Po features an impressive “field” of 91 Chedi – high spires.
These 2 chedi are predominantly orange.
What an amazing sight ~ which increases once you get closer and can see the details of the “jewelry work, on a grand scale.”
Here you can see the detailed mosaic work up close on the yellow and orange chedi.
A series of entrances to courtyards of Buddhas and murals.
There are continuous and very beautifully painted murals lining the walls of the walkways in Wat Po.
King Rama III, wanted Wat Po to become a center of learning.  Thais still consider Wat Po their first public university.  The murals explain a wide variety of subjects, such as geography, yoga, astrology, science, literature and religion.
A section of a mural depicting teachers in gold and students in the courtyard below.
A typical wooden traditional Thai house. Having tea on the front porch, with 2 cats playing alongside…
This scene depicts the wall around the city. Elephants were a revered part of Siam culture.
River life in old Bangkok. The center boat has a man with a food container, delivering food to people along the river banks.

Wat Po is a large complex of many buildings, most of them housing rows and rows of gorgeous golden Buddhas. Must be one of the largest collections of Buddhas anywhere! It is quite incredible to see so many large size Buddhas in their golden splendor, in great condition.

Row of standing golden, larger than life, Buddhas.
Up close detail of the ceiling decorations above the Buddhas.

The Center includes the Traditional Medical Practioners’ Association which teaches and offers traditional Thai massages. We gladly sampled these at $8 a massage. (50 masage therapists all giving  Thai massages at once in a large massage room, quite an experience.)

Traditional herbal doctors holding up herbal medicines.
Rows of people receiving Thai massage at the massage center at Wat Po.
Peta receiving shoulder and neck treatment.
Hallways of seated larger than life Buddhas.
Up close detail of the ornate and colorful decoration on the base of the seated Buddhas.
This small temple, part of the Wat Po complex houses the tallest standing Buddha in Thailand. You get an idea of size, compared with the human figure in front.
Smaller Buddha in front of tallest one, with gold leaf flakes creating an unusual beautiful textural surface.
Highly decorated and ornate throne for the Buddha in one of the temples of the Wat Po complex.
3 monks take a few moments of prayer in front of the holy Buddha.

4 thoughts on “Wat Po ~ a magnificent ode to Buddha. Bangkok, Thailand

  1. Sharon Rosenzweig

    I really enjoy the 2d work here. It reminds me of prerenaissance European painting, before mathematical perspective, when painters were creative about depicting space, like here, where it’s awesomely unpredictable. Better be careful not to bump into the Buddha when you back up to look at the walls.

    1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

      So many painting, so large, so impressive! We were blown away by the magnificence. Yes, very interesting use of space – they have an illustrative quality and a feeling of the golden figures being painted after the landscape was complete. You would love it in person as its hard to get the continuous feel through photographs.

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